It’s calm and serene at Noa Boutique Hotel in A Coruña – two adjectives you don’t usually associate with seaside Spanish cities. That’s because most pilgrimages end 40 miles south of here in Santiago de Compostela. More’s the pity, because if they continued northwards to this picturesque port city – known as the gateway to Galicia – they’d find some of the world’s best seafood (gooseneck barnacle, anyone?) and a romantically rugged Atlantic coastline. Or perhaps it’s not such a pity at all, given that Noa’s glass-walled bedrooms, cobalt-cove views and rooftop pool remain a relative secret. In fact, you may want to keep schtum about it, too. Noa, who?
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A selection of home-made treats in your room on arrival
Check-in is from 3pm and check-out is at noon. Both can be flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £74.92 (€84), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates don’t generally include the generous à la carte breakfasts, which start from €11 – the sumptuous spread includes fresh fruit, Galician country bread, Iberian ham and home-made jams.
Hurrah for full-sized bath products. The ones at Noa were made bespoke to capture the scent of sea breezes and pine from this section of Spain’s craggy coastline.
At the hotel
Valet parking, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV with Chromecast, heated floors, plug adaptors, air-conditioning, tea, coffee and bespoke eco-friendly bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All the rooms are glass-fronted and sea-facing with soaking bath tubs, so you can’t really go wrong. However, we’d opt for a room on an upper floor for slightly superior ocean vistas, like the Noa Bath Room, which has a free-standing bath tub right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The crown jewel is the rooftop, where the sweeping views take in the sea, the Santa Cruz castle and the port of A Coruña. In the summer months, you could spend all day here, moving from infinity-edged saltwater swimming pool to sunlounger to Jacuzzi.
The hotel’s commitment to wellness is evident in the fully-equipped 24-hour gym, which offers yoga, pilates and personal-training sessions on request. The spa’s treatment menu is just as thorough – choose from lymphatic-drainage, hot-stone, sports or Thai massages, mud-therapy treatments or youth-restoring facials.
Lycra for hitting the gym and jogging on the seaside promenade, linen for balmy evenings on the terrace.
One Classic Room and one Superior Classic Room are adapted for wheelchair users.
Take a seat by the window for people- and promenade-watching.
Anything goes at the informal tavern by the sea, but flowy floral dresses and espadrilles will suit the botany and ocean breezes in the main restaurant.
In a region renowned for its seafood, Noa’s restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Chef Carlos Cordero serves up regional dishes with an Asian bent in an open-plan and greenery-filled space – start with a crunchy duck salad, grilled polpo or Iberian ham croquettes, before moving on to mains like salted cod or fried sea-bass with herby aioli, and finishing with caramelised crepes, Galician cake or local cheeses. All the produce used is hyper-local and sustainably sourced from nearby waters.
More informal than the restaurant, Noa Bar is the place for a cold beer after cruising the seaside promenade. The laid-back tavern is dotted with fig plants and heavy on honey-hued wood. There’s a full tapas menu here, too, loaded with casual options like local charcuterie, pan con tomate, tuna tartare, patatas bravas and cheesecake.
Breakfast is from 8am to 11am; lunch is served 2pm–3.30pm; and dinner is 9pm–10.30pm.
There’s no room service, but the minibars are stocked with soft drinks, wine and snacks if hunger strikes after hours.
Noa Boutique Hotel is right on the water’s edge in the bay of Santa Cruz, 15 minutes from the centre of A Coruña, a beachy port city and gourmet paradise known as the gateway to Galicia.
The closest airport is La Coruña, a 15-minute drive away. Vueling flies direct from London Heathrow. Santiago de Compostela’s airport is slightly further, a 45-minute drive, and has direct connections to Geneva, Paris, Zurich and London’s Stansted. The hotel can organise private car transfers from either airport for €30 each way.
A Coruña station is 15 minutes by car and serves Santiago de Compostela (in under 30 minutes), Madrid and Porto.
There’s no call for a car in this walkable port city, but if you’re road-tripping, there’s valet parking on-site for €15 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Relaxation is the modus operandi here – the name ‘Noa’ means ‘rest’ in Galician – so take it slow on the first day and savour the views of the Atlantic from your bedroom, or book in for a soul-soothing spa treatment before staking out a sunlounger by the rooftop pool. The seaside promenade that runs in front of the hotel doubles up as an outdoor gym for Santa Cruz residents – you can walk, run or cycle down the coastline, passing sandy beaches, parks and museums. If you make it all the way to the northern tip of the headland, you’ll find Seixo Branco, a beauty spot with impressive cliffs and scenic hikes that will remind you more of Scotland than Spain. From here, you may also be able to spy A Coruña’s most famous sight, the Unesco-protected Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse built by the Romans over 2,000 years ago that’s still in use today. Closer to home, take the footpath to Santa Cruz Castle on a small island in the bay of Oleiros. After an attack by Sir Frances Drake and the English navy in the 16th century, the fortress was built to strengthen the city’s defences.
Then, get ready to mount your own tactical attack on the tapas bars in A Coruña’s old town – they all have their speciality, so you can hop from place to place, cracking into a croqueta here and a plate of jamón there.
And, though most pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela walk for weeks to reach the shrine of Saint James the Great, you can bypass the blisters, hop on a train and be among the city’s famous sights in half an hour (or an hour by car). Take in the cathedral and its Portal of Glory, the Praza do Obradoiro and Alameda Park.
This region of the Atlantic coast is dotted with countless bays and estuaries, and home to some of the most prized shellfish on the planet. As such, you’ll find that the restaurants and tapas bars in A Coruña are temples to fresh and simply prepared seafood. The main streets for tapas are Calle Galera, Calle Franja and Calle Estrella. Start with a plate of polpo and a local Estrella Galicia beer. Vegetarians can order to their heart’s content at Santa Clara Destapa and Bido is known for its wine list. For a special occasion, march to Casa Marcelo for Galicia-meets-Japan fare.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this bay-gazing hotel in Galicia and unpacked their jamón ibérico and T-shirts from the original Zara, a full account of their Spanish city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Noa Boutique Hotel in A Coruña…
You’d be forgiven if you’d never given much thought to the port city of A Coruña – it’s often overlooked by pilgrims making progress to nearby Santiago de Compostela. But the more time we spend here, the more we’re convinced that this picturesque perch on the wild Atlantic coast of Galicia is Spain’s best-kept secret; there’s a bracing seaside promenade so you can walk, run or cycle past ancient lighthouses, sandy beaches and mediaeval forts, a tapas tradition to rival Barcelona’s and now there’s Noa Boutique Hotel. This glass-fronted, minimalist haven is in the bay of Santa Cruz and every bedroom faces the water through floor-to-ceiling windows, so you’ll wake up seeing nothing but sun, sea and the castle in the cove. It’s all extremely restful and romantic, before you’ve even factored in the boutique spa, the rooftop swimming pool and the scenic seafood restaurant downstairs. So, let’s all slink off to A Coruña for our next under-the-radar escape… just not all at once, promise?